Securing equal status for all streams of Judaism in Israel
By advancing state recognition and funding for religious services provided by the Reform and Conservative movements, IRAC aims to level the playing field and enable "competition" on more equal footing with state-subsidized services provided by the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox establishment. In recent years, IRAC has won major rulings for land and building allocations for Reform and Conservative congregations and secured the groundbreaking "Miri Gold" ruling, which requires the state to provide equal funding for Reform and Conservative rabbis in regional councils. IRAC now works with congregations to apply for these funds, while continuing to work in court to extend this ruling to Reform and Conservative rabbis in cities. IRAC also helps organizations secure funding for providing progressive Jewish content in schools, and takes action when progressive Jewish content is excluded (for example, on the Jewish heritage television channel, and in the IDF Jewish cultural and identity program).
Reform congregations and institutions: We provide extensive support to Reform congregations and institutions who encounter challenges acquiring funding for places of worship, municipal tax exemption, and other basic rights.
Regional rabbis: IRAC's landmark legal victory in 2012 - the "Miri Gold" ruling - opened the door for non-Orthodox regional council rabbis to receive state recognition and funding. In December 2013, the salaries of four regional Reform rabbis, including Miri Gold, were paid by the state. In 2014 funds totaling 425,000 shekel were received to support five regional Reform rabbis. In 2017, we submitted requests and received funding for ten regional Reform rabbis and continue to provide them with assistance, and are requesting funding for eleven rabbis in 2018.
Neighborhood rabbis: IRAC first petitioned the Supreme Court seeking to extend the “Miri Gold” ruling to neighborhood rabbis working in Israeli cities in 2012. The petition was dismissed by the Court in 2014 because the State announced its intention to change the entire mechanism of funding rabbis’ salaries in cities. Since then, the government has continued with various stalling tactics while continuing to fund Orthodox rabbis in cities and refusing to fund non-Orthodox rabbis. We filed a new petition demanding equal funding for Reform and Conservative rabbis in cities in November 2017. It is scheduled to be heard in June 2018.
Arutz 20: Channel 20 on Israeli TV, the Jewish Tradition station, does not allow Reform or Conservative rabbis to appear on the network. We met with the Cable and satellite Council, as a result Arutz 20 was ordered to begin to include the Reform and Conservative movements in their broadcasts, with a fine for failure to do so. Since they failed to do so, a fine of 100,000 NIS was imposed on them. We filed two petitions on the issue: a petition to stop the exclusion of the Reform and Conservative movements or have their license abolished, and a petition challenging the decision to choose Arutz 20 as the next operator for the Israeli Parliament channel. Recently the State went back on its decision to have Arutz 20 as the next operator of the Knesset channel. Additionally, the state declared that should Arutz 20 continue to operate illegally, the station will have to forfeit its 3.5 million NIS pledge. A hearing on our petition is scheduled for May 2018.
Our main challenge is making progress with the current government. The ultra-Orthodox nature of the coalition has led to many setbacks, delays and obstacles towards achieving our goals in securing equal status for all Jews in Israel. While, thankfully, the progress we've made towards getting rabbis and synagogues state funding isn't going anywhere, we expect it may get in the way of making progress towards getting state funding towards rabbis working in cities.